Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has landed himself and his country’s establishment in a soup. Mr. Sharif is battling for his own political survival, post his disqualification by the Pakistan Supreme Court as Prime Minister, over the “Panama gate” scandal. He also has been disqualified by Pakistan’s apex court to hold the office of the Chairman of his own party, the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML N). His party is at the helm in that country, which goes into elections in two months time.
In an interview, without naming Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar’s militant organisations, the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Jaish-e-Mohammad, Mr. Sharif had said, militant organisations are active in Pakistan. “Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill over 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial,” he questioned.
Of course, Mr. Sharif has stated the obvious. It is well known that it was Pakistani state actors who were behind the dastardly Mumbai attacks of 26th November 2008, which killed more than 165 innocent Indians and foreigners. Immediately after the Mumbai attacks, the then Pakistan President had agreed to send the Chief of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to India for joint investigation, but his proposal was turned down by the then Pakistan Army Chief.
The lone Pakistan terrorist captured alive by Indian security forces, Amir Ajmal Kasab had confessed to being trained by the Pakistani establishment and he named the Pakistani military officials involved in the attacks. However, after arresting the co-conspirator Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi and the mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan did everything to obfuscate the legal proceedings. India provided Pakistan with several dossiers on the role and complicity of the terrorists in the Mumbai attacks; however, Islamabad always said that “there was no sufficient proof”.
Having feted Lakhvi and Saeed for years, the Pakistani establishment (especially the Military) is left red faced with Mr. Sharif’s open admission. But, analysts e are questioning Mr. Sharif’s remarks. After all, he was at the helm of affairs till mid 2017 and since he had knowledge of his country’s involvement in the deadly attacks, he should have acted firmly against those elements. It would be pertinent to mention here that it was under Mr. Sharif’s rule, that days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Lahore, the attack on Pathankot air force base took place. During Mr. Sharif’s earlier tenure in 1999, the Kargil happened.
India and the international community knew of Pakistan’s non-seriousness on taking the terrorists head on. The former Pak Prime Minister has just endorsed that his country uses terrorism as a foreign policy tool. Islamabad’s double speak on the issue of terrorism is well known.
As the election season dawns upon Pakistan and Mr. Sharif, his sons and daughter are facing heat from the Pakistan Supreme Court over corruption and other charges. The admission of Pakistan’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks could a ploy by Mr. Sharif to garner sympathy and support for his proxies. He has tried to play the ‘martyr’ but his utterances have him caused enormous trouble. Both his party, the PML N and the Pakistan army have decried Mr. Sharif’s statement.
The PML N has said the statement of Mr. Nawaz Sharif has been grossly misinterpreted by the Indian media. Unfortunately, a section of Pakistani electronic and social media has intentionally or unintentionally not only validated but has lent credence to the malicious propaganda of “Indian media” without going through the full facts of the statement”. Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC), the top civil-military body tasked to take crucial national security and foreign policy decisions, has termed as “baseless”, Mr. Sharif’s public admission that Pakistani terrorists carried out the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
However, Mr. Sharif in a public meeting said, the time has come that Pakistan should know who was responsible for terrorism and the current state of affairs. He asked “who has led Pakistan towards isolation and has brought the country to a stage where the international community is not ready to accept Pakistan’s narrative?” Indeed, these are questions that the Pakistani establishment needs to answer!
Mr. Sharif’s statement has proved that India had been right all along and the onus is now on the Pakistani establishment to bring to book the terrorists accused in the Mumbai attacks.
Script: Kaushik Roy, Air: News Analyst